Thanks to the European Commission, Amazon customers in the EU can now cancel a Prime membership with just two clicks. Additionally, the cancellation process is now free of “distracting information” and small, hidden buttons. But Amazon doesn’t seem interested in bringing these changes to the United States.
As you may have discovered after the recent Prime price hike, canceling Amazon’s subscription is a confusing mess. You’re forced to click through five different pages that are filled with different colored buttons, large blocks of text, and graphs explaining all the perks you’ll lose.
These “dark patterns” were described in a 2021 report by the Norwegian Consumer Council. It came to the conclusion that Amazon intentionally complicates the Prime cancellation process to frustrate, discourage, and mislead customers. The report also highlights Prime’s simple signup process, which requires just two clicks.
The reported cancellation practices consisted in a large number of hurdles to unsubscribe, including complicated navigation menus, skewed wording, confusing choices, and repeated nudging.
The European Commission found that these “dark patterns” violate the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. In order to comply with consumer protection laws, Amazon was forced to simplify its Prime cancellation process on desktop and mobile platforms. The change took place in the EU and EEA on July 1st. (The UK will also see these changes in August, according to The Guardian.)
But Amazon hasn’t (and possibly won’t) offer this simple cancellation process outside of the EU and UK. When questioned by The Verge about the Prime cancellation process in the US, an Amazon spokesperson said there are “no changes to announce at this time.”
We don’t know Amazon’s plans, and it’s not uncommon for companies to withhold information while they prepare PR and other materials. But Amazon needs to implement these changes globally. As it stands today, the Prime cancellation process is plainly anti-consumer.